I am Linda N. Balbuena, CeC Manager of CeC Malvar, (Telecentres in the Philippines are called Community eCenters or CeCs)located in the 2nd class Municipality of Malvar in the Province of Batangas, Philippines.
Let me share with you my story.
CeCs are new structures in Local Government Units (LGU) like ours. It is a “self-sustaining shared facility providing affordable access to ICT-enabled services and relevant content. It serves as a conduit for efficient delivery of government services and a potent tool for empowerment and participation of unserved and underserved communities in development.”
The National Computer Center (NCC) is the agency that gave us our initial four computers. It also provided us with a 5-day training on the “Essentials of CeC Management.” It was the only formal training I received to open and manage a CeC.
After the training, even without seeing a real one in action, I went on to sell the idea of a CeC in our Municipality. I established a clear vision and shared this, the information, knowledge and methods to realize that vision with all the stakeholders. These included the Mayor, the Vice Mayor, the Members of the Sangguniang Bayan (SB), the municipal government department heads, the barangay officials, the non-government organizations (NGO), the school teachers, the community volunteers, and other people’s organizations.
Having done all that, the SB established the CeC through a Municipal Ordinance in August 2010. Everything the CeC needed to function was provided for us by the Mayor. And so, on October 7, 2010, the Mayor ordered that the CeC be opened.
We developed our own modules to teach basic computer literacy. We promulgated service standards and SOPs for our clients and staff. We prepared schedules for our target clients – housewives, mothers, OSYs, community volunteers, public school pupils, retirees who were at first hesitant and timid and did not want to get inside the CeC.
My coordination with the barangays gave birth to “CeC sa Barangay”. Our CeC brought six computers, setting them up in each of the 15 barangays on Mondays and putting them back in boxes on Fridays. It was a gruelling and laborious task. But we kept on, rain or shine. Our CeC offers a lot of services but we focused on providing FREE training on basic computer literacy. The knowledge they gained helped change their lives. Some got employed, others became happier, better persons. It was also through this program that we were able to train hundreds of women in basic digital literacy.
One day, our friends at the NCC brought along several CeC Managers on exchange visit to observe our CeC. This first visit opened the gates for more visitors, mostly from the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP). I also started to give talks about our CeC. On these occasions, at least two of our graduates would present their experiences on how the CeC changed their lives for the better. The PhiICeCNet and the Telecentre.org Foundation also paid us a visit. One thing led to another. I became a resource person for the DAP, sharing my personal knowledge and experiences as CeC Manager in the areas of “Mobilizing CeC Resources” and “Managing CeC Day to Day Operations.”
Our CeC managed to join the PhilCeCNet ICT Month celebration and the Telecentre.org Foundation Anniversary.
Last February 1, with the help of an NGO and the NCC, and with full support from the Mayor and the SB, our municipality was able to open two satellite CeCs. Both have been teeming with clients since.
Today, from four computers, we now have a total of 26 desktop computers, 13 laptops and five printers. More ICT equipment are coming our way as we get the prize for winning the ”Telecentre Women: Digital Literacy Campaign” contest. Also, from an annual budget of PhP200,000, our CeC now has a budget of PhP1.3 million for the year 2013.
This is my story and the best is yet to come!